Monday, June 11, 2012
Indiana First State to Allow Citizens to Shoot Law Enforcement Officers
Police officers in Indiana are upset over a new law allowing residents to use deadly force against public servants, including law enforcement officers, who unlawfully enter their homes. It was signed by Republican Governor Mitch Daniels in March.
The first of its kind in the United States, the law was adopted after the state Supreme Court went too far in one of its rulings last year, according to supporters. The case in question involved a man who assaulted an officer during a domestic violence call. The court ruled that there was “no right to reasonably resist unlawful entry by police officers.”
Especially our Weber/Morgan Narcotics Task Force officers. Reminds me of that old saying: "If you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear, Mr. Sworn Officer."
To clarify, this law was adopted in response to a court decision that went way too far by denying citizens the right to self-defense against an illegal entry into their home if the criminal happened to a be cop.
Utah has no such law on the books so far as I know because we've never had such an asinine court ruling here denying our natural right to self defense. Nor would this law have any
direct effect on the Weber task force case because that entry (objectionable as many may consider it) was not unlawful. So far as has been reported, it was executed pursuant to a valid warrant and within the terms of that warrant.
I don't think Utah needs anything like this law. We already have a right to defend ourselves against an illegal home entry...period. It doesn't matter who is attempting or effecting the illegal entry.
What we might need is some protection for the homeowner who responds with what he believes is legal force to what he reasonably believes is an illegal entry, but turns out to be police executing a warrant.
Sure, the cops know (or at least strongly believe) they are executing a legal entry pursuant to a warrant. But how does the homeowner know that? What is a homeowner to do when a bunch of armed men, faces covered, bust down his door and start yelling? Even if he can make out the word "Police" how is the homeowner to know the invaders are actually police rather than a criminal gang?
Simply put, in any "dynamic entry" situation, I believe full burden should be on the police/prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the residents did know or reasonably should have known that the persons entering the home were police officers operating within the law before any charges could be brought against the residents for responding with force, including deadly force, to defend themselves.
I think such a policy, law, or rule of evidence in court would be a strong incentive to sharply curtail the use of dynamic entry. Short of a hostage situation where negotiations have broken down or the bad guy has started killing victims, I'm having a hard time imagining cases where dynamic entry is actually necessary or morally defensible considering the very high cost of making a mistake.
I'm not in the camp of wanting to legalize recreational drugs. But I don't know that our current para-military tactics are the proper way to keep the peace and minimize the problems with drug users, dealers, and manufacturers. I don't believe the benefits derived from dynamic entry can justify the costs of the risks to innocent citizens, the police themselves, or even the potential to needlessly violate the basic rights of criminals.
And even if nothing changed about the frequency or reasons for using dynamic entry, I simply don't see how a home owner can be held to account for information he did not have at the time he acted. Look at logically, a man who claims self-defense in court may not be able to bring up the long criminal record of his assailant because in most cases he didn't know about that record when he acted. The determination of whether he acted reasonably has to be based on what he knew and saw at the time. So it only seem rational that a person who acts in self defense against home invaders should not be held to account for the fact that the invaders were police officers executing a duly signed warrant unless and until it can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the resident actually knew the invaders were police executing a warrant.
Simply put, I believe that a reasonable man might well choose to act in self defense until he can positively establish that the masked, unknown, armed men violently invading his home do not pose a criminal threat to his life and limb.